RVA Grooves’ Jennifer Jules Hart with artist Ed Trask on the show
If you're a night owl, you may have seen RVA Grooves on an early Monday morning (12:30 a.m. to be precise) on WWBT-12. Like moths to a flame, more and more Richmond media types are promoting our city's creative movement. It's a nice change from the tired — and hopelessly out of date — refrain that "there's nothing to do in Richmond."
I've already used this space to highlight Marc Cheatham of the Cheats Movement blog, as well as GayRVA.com's founder Kevin Clay (who recently sold his site to another homegrown media outlet, RVA Magazine). And there are many more proud Richmonders supporting the city's creative scene online, on public-access television, on local radio, in print and more. I count Richmond magazine's editors, writers and art directors among them. We're not oblivious cheerleaders — we're too smart for that — but we do want our city and the surrounding counties to succeed.
RVA Grooves took an unusual path to television. It started as a series of concerts last spring promoted by Johnson Communications. The 20-year-old public-relations firm put on the Richmond Jazz Festival at Maymont and other events, and perhaps most important for the TV show, they have a digital-strategies department, of which RVA Grooves is the centerpiece.
The first episode aired in November, featuring such "friends of Johnson Inc." as the Hippodrome, muralist and city arts activist Ed Trask, and the high-end clothing shop Roan in Carytown. Hosted by Kelli Lemon of KISS-FM, the result is a professional-looking program. The first season, recorded in the summer and fall of 2012, has six episodes, all of which can be seen at rvagrooves.com .
Season two will likely air in late spring or early summer, says Torrance Hampton, creative director for Johnson. The upcoming season will also mark two shifts: one in content and one in production. The first season aired during a paid content slot, but the next will air as part of 12's local programming.
The format will remain the same, with interviews of visual artists (a couple more muralists are on tap), retailers and musicians. But now that the public has gotten wind of the show, people outside the agency are making suggestions. Hampton says we can look forward to a spotlight on Richmond's craft brew scene, chef Jason Alley and Shockoe Denim.
But what about that late-night scheduling? "We're OK with it for now, but we're looking at options," Hampton says.
A few media folks are moving on, but they'll still be in Richmond. Andy Jenks and Nicole Bell, both longtime WWBT-12 reporters (and an anchor in Jenks' case), are now spokespeople for two area school systems. Jenks is at Henrico, and Bell is at Petersburg. I wish them luck at their new gigs.
By the time you read this, I will have moved on myself, to a new job as a writer at ChildFund International. It's my first position in my post-journalism career, so we'll see how that goes. I'll miss sounding off on the local media in this space. To everyone I criticized here, it's because I adore Richmond media and want the best for it. Thanks!